Thursday, May 16, 2019

YA Book #Review: Leaving Paradise (Paradise 1) by Simone Elkeles .@SimoneElkeles .@fluxbooks

Book Title: Leaving Paradise (Paradise 1)
Author:  Simone Elkeles |WebsiteTwitterFacebook| Instagram
Publisher: Flux
Genre: Young Adult, Social Situations, Romance
Series/Standalone: Book 1
Format: ebook
Cost: $9.95
Pages: 303
How I got it: Purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Publisher
Publication Date: April 1 2007
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Nothing has been the same since Caleb Becker left a party drunk, got behind the wheel, and hit Maggie Armstrong. Even after months of painful physical therapy, Maggie walks with a limp. Her social life is nil and a scholarship to study abroad—her chance to escape everyone and their pitying stares — has been canceled. After a year in juvenile jail, Caleb’s free . . . if freedom means endless nagging from a transition coach and the prying eyes of the entire town. Coming home should feel good, but his family and ex-girlfriend seem like strangers. Caleb and Maggie are outsiders, pigeon-holed as "criminal" and "freak." Then the truth emerges about what really happened the night of the accident and, once again, everything changes. It’s a bleak and tortuous journey for Caleb and Maggie, yet they end up finding comfort and strength from a surprising source: each other. (less)
I snagged this one from my shelves because I was looking for a light read. I should have known better. Simone's books are great reads, but she always packs a punch. In this one, we are meeting two teens dealing with the repercussions of a night of drunk driving.  Caleb Becker is having the chance to be released from juvie early due to being a model citizen and when he does he's going home to make the necessary changes to make sure he never has to think about this past year ever again.

Maggie Armstrong is struggling to move on from the night that changed her life. She's counting down the days until she can move on by leaving Paradise and that night behind. She's devastated to learn that Caleb is coming home before she can leave for her study abroad and she knows that her life will never be the same. I absolutely loved this story. I'm going to go ahead and say I guessed the twist from the beginning because 1) I'm older and have lots of life experiences and know that it's never what it seems and 2) when I was a teen I read another story like this by Katherine Applegate from her Boyfriends and Girlfriends series so yeah. While it wasn't obvious at the beginning of the story, as it progresses and we see certain character reactions we are given the clues to know the twist at the end.

When Caleb comes home he's furious to realize that time has passed but instead of living their lives his family has fallen apart. He can't see Maggie without feeling like hell and going back to school is worse than being locked up. He's struggling to acclimate and being in school where he's not the same as everyone else really hurts. He's not dealing well with the year he was away and doesn't know how to pretend everything is perfect like his mother is demanding he do. Maggie is devastated to know her best friends' brother was the one who killed her tennis dreams and is even more hurt as time goes by in school and he seems to be settling back into his old life while hers will never be the same.

Drawn together despite all the reasons they shouldn't be friends Maggie and Caleb are struggling to deal with living next door to each other and seeing the changes that the one night made. It's impacted everything destroyed the two families close friendship, the girls's friendship and of course Maggie's dreams and self esteem. Caleb is angry that things aren't settling in the way they should and he's trying to find a way to redeem himself and also bring his family back together. His twins sister is avoiding him, his dad pretends because his mother demands it and his mother is drowning her sorrows in a prescription addiction.  I loved that Simone showed how this action ripples across the whole family not just the one who is injured and not just the one who did the deed. You could feel their pain and the fear each character was feeling and ho much that confusion led to their choices.

I absolutely loved Mrs Reynolds and the influence she has not just on Maggie and Caleb, but on Maggie's mom as well. There were great cast of characters who worked to help Caleb and Maggie learn to deal with the night that changed their lives. From mentors that tried to teach Maggie to accept the now instead of wishing for what could have been to fellow classmates who open their eyes to the truth.

It was wonderful to read their journey from confused and battered enemies to a couple that wanted to stand strong, but life isn't easy and it isn't perfect and when the truth comes out and pride stands in the way, their lives are changed forever and the one who wanted to stay runs, and the one who wanted to run finds a way to stay and be strong in that.

I absolutely loved this story and dived right into the second and I can't wait to share my feeling about that one as well. I highly recommend my loves.

As an aside I will say this did rely on the fragile stereotype and protecting that at all costs. Using patriarchy as a way to escape punishment then resenting being reminded of your guilt; as well as how your actions are impacting those around you but caring only about your precious feelings. I wanted to slap the heck out of the character and tell them to grow up. And yes I know as a teen you think you know it all but really don't know much.
Happy Reading my loves, 

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